“I Always Want To Tell the Truth”

“I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth.” — President Donald Trump in an interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News, conducted October 31, 2018

President Donald Trump interviewed by Jonathan Karl of “ABC News, October 31, 2018.

Think about that! The president of the United States wants to tell the truth, or so he says, but sometimes, well, a guy just cannot help himself! And, then, Donald Trump says, “It turns out to be where something happens that’s different or there’s a change, but I always like to be truthful.”

Actually, even these comments are lies. For the truth is, President Trump lies all the time. He lies about matters large and small. He lies when he can get away with it, and when he cannot. He even lies about lying. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker reported in the first 601 days of his presidency, Trump told more than 5,000 lies. That is an average of 8.3 Trumpian false claims a day. On just one day, September 7, 2018, Trump publicly made 125 false or misleading statements in roughly two hours! Gee, I guess that a lot of different things happened that caused the president not to tell the truth.

Many of Trump’s lies are intended to boost electoral turnout by his base supporters.

Trump makes things up. In an effort to rally his base to go to the polls and vote next Tuesday, the president said a week ago, “We’re going to be putting in a 10-percent tax cut for middle-income families. It’s going to be put in next week.” That pledge caught congressional Republicans off guard, none of whom were consulted, apparently. More importantly, Congress never moves that fast, even when in session. And, because of the coming election, Congress is not in session. Hard for the members to write, hold hearings, and pass a tax bill in the space of a week when they are not in session. But, as a vote-getting tactic, promising an immediate tax cut probably works. And, when it does not happen, the president can always blame Congress — most probably, the Democrats, who, at this writing, are in the minority and, thus, hold no power. (But, in Trump’s world, it is always someone else’s fault.)

A favorite Trump ploy is to defend a lie by claiming “I was told that,” which is what he did when ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked the president about saying the United States is the only country that enshrines birthright citizenship. “I will say this,” Trump said, “we’re the country people want to come to. And what they were referring to when they gave me that information is that we’re the country they want to come to.” Notice all those “theys.” Nameless, unidentifiable “theys” is a favorite Trump tactic, a way of insuring no one can track down the source, since there is no source, or, maybe, the source, if there is one, is dubious. It is akin to his “people say” trope when making outrageous claims. He identifies a source, which is, of course, no source at all, but that puts the president one step removed from people thinking he made it up. 

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States,” Trump has claimed. The right to citizenship based on residency, jus soli, the right of the soil, is enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It is not unique to the United States. More than 30 countries offer unconditional citizenship similar to the United States. Most of the countries are in the Western Hemisphere, though Lesotho in Africa and Pakistan in Asia also grant citizenship to anyone born on their soil. But, the facts do not matter. For Trump, what is important is that promising to ban so-called “anchor babies,” the derisive term used by anti-immigrant nativists, plays to his base, an important consideration in the weeks leading up to an election. Nor does it matter that Trump cannot undo a part of the Constitution by signing an Executive Order. If he could, then what would prevent a Democratic successor from overturning the Second Amendment by Executive Order?

Migrant caravan

Lying to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria is page one in the Trump playbook. He launched his campaign in 2015 coming down the escalator Trump Tower to claim that Mexico is “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” And, he still is saying similar things, claiming “caravans” of people — including Middle East terrorists (the Muslim bogeyman makes an appearance in this lie) — are descending on the United States. In truth, the “caravans” are asylum seekers — men, women, and children — who are hundreds of miles from the U.S. border, but as a ploy to get his base to the polls, nothing works better than a lie about immigrant hordes invading the country. To guard against this invasion, the president needs to send 15,000 troops to the border to protect us from “dangerous thugs.” Besides, images of immigrant hordes approaching the border changes the subject. Talk about caravans precludes discussion of Trump’s responsibility for the ugly violence of the past few weeks.

Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, left, Donald Trump’s in 2017, right.

In The ABC interview, Trump said, “You have caravans coming up that look a lot larger than it’s reported actually. I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size.” This from the president who sent his then-press secretary Sean Spicer to the White House pressroom podium to claim the crowd size at the 2017 inauguration was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” Pictures told a different story.

Evidently, for Donald Trump, the biggest lie is, “I always want to tell the truth.” 

Posted November 2, 2018 



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